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From 4-H to fine art, fair's where it's at

Summertime staple offers events for young and old

Gabby-Dugger-15-of-Perrysburg-puts-an-English-bridle-on-Annie

Gabby Dugger, 15, of Perrysburg puts an English bridle on Annie at the Wood County Fair. The teen competes in both English and Western competitions.

The Blade/Lori King
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BOWLING GREEN -- This year's Wood County Fair offers all the summertime staples. Lights twinkle and bells clang on the Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, and miniature train.

Children can toss, climb, and shoot to win oversized stuffed animals in the game area. And there are enough hotdogs, hamburgers, slushies, and ice cream cones to keep fairgoers full for the entire week.

But the 2012 fair, held at the Wood County Fairgrounds in Bowling Green, is not just for youngsters. On the list of permanent exhibits and special events, adults will find plenty of attractions that educate and entertain. "The fine art show, the home and garden center, the livestock shows -- that all appeals to all ages," said Ashley Vetter, spokesman for the fair's board of directors.

The fine art show, which displays drawings, paintings, fiber, and mixed-media pieces, drew 596 entries, Ms. Vetter said.

The photography show boasts an additional 1,000 pieces from local amateur and professional photographers.

The Wood County Genealogical Society's exhibit, too, appeals to adult fair-goers -- or anybody with a passion for history. Members of the society read through local newspapers from 1912 and cut out the most interesting of the century-old advertisements, which now line the walls of their exhibit room.

"It's so fun to see the ads and how much stuff was really worth," said Jackie Instone, a volunteer at the exhibit, pointing out listings for $20 suits, 19-cent laundry soap, and a $5 porch swing.

"We hope the young people will come, but the ones interested are the older folks," she said. "Young people are just too busy, but retired folks have the time to be interested in history."

For Dennis Beach, a woodcarver who performs live chain-saw shows four times daily, older fair-goers are not only the primary customers for his sculptures, which typically sell for about $350 in an auction on the final day of the fair. They are also the reason he travels from his home in eastern Pennsylvania to Bowling Green for the fair each year.

IF YOU GO

What: Wood County Fair.

Where: County Fairgrounds, 13800 W. Poe Road, Bowling Green.

When: Gates open at 9 a.m. today, Saturday and Sunday and 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Friday, and Monday.

Cost: Tickets are $6 for ages 10 and older at the gate; parking is free.

Information: Call 419-352-0441 or go to www.woodcounty-fair.com


"This is by far the best fair I go to. It's the people, their attitudes. They're always so happy and cheerful," said Mr. Beach, who has brought his carvings to the Wood County Fair for 14 years.

In addition to permanent exhibits, the fair schedule includes daily performances, which Ms. Vetter described as popular with fair-goers young and old. The annual cheerleading competition, to be held Friday at 6:30 p.m., is expected to draw a crowd, as is the Combine Demolition Derby on Sunday evening.But the most anticipated event will come Saturday night, when Grammy-winning country music singer Gretchen Wilson takes the stage. As of Tuesday, fair organizers had sold more than 1,600 concert tickets, which cost $20 to $25.

"That's definitely our biggest event," said Ms. Vetter, though she noted that fair attendance has been on par with previous years so far.

"We're very happy with attendance, and the weather's great," she said. "We're looking forward to the rest of the week."

Contact Jessica Shor at: jshor@theblade.com or 419-724-6516.

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